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Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The DEFRA press office has a complement of 16 press officers. In the current financial year, the pay cost to date for the DEFRA press office is £433,239.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the insurance industry regarding flood cover on (a) private and (b) commercial properties. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The Government keep in close touch with the insurance industry on these issues. Members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have previously said they will continue to provide flood cover, except in exceptional circumstances, for domestic properties and small businesses which they currently insure up to the end of 2002.
My hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and the Under-Secretary my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), met the ABI on 5 September to discuss our mutual aim of ensuring that affordable flood insurance cover continues to be generally available beyond December 2002.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from the Environment Agency regarding the funds available for work on flood defences. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The Environment Agency has asked the Government to recognise and commit to meeting the need for a significant further increase in funding on a planned basis to (a) improve flood warnings and (b) maintain and improve the overall standard and extent of flood defence. This will be considered through the Spending Review 2002 process. Current plans are for this Department's spending on flood and coastal defences for all operating authorities to increase from last year's outturn of £66 million to £114 million in 200304.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate she has of the number of pheasants (a) reared and (b) shot each year for (i) agricultural and (ii) sporting purposes since 1994; 
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(3) what estimate she has made of the number of pheasants released each year; of those, what estimate she has of those (i) shot but not captured and (ii) shot and captured; and in respect of the latter category, how many of these are (a) discarded and (b) eaten; 
(4) how many people she estimates are employed in connection with pheasant-rearing and shooting; and what the estimated animal income of this sector is. 
Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Board of British Waterways on the scope of its activities in relation to the Environment Agency; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: Ministers met the Chairman of British Waterways together with the Chairman of the Environment Agency on 17 September to discuss the future of the Agency's navigation responsibilities in the light of the publication of the report of Stage 1 of the Environment Agency Financial Management and Policy Review. A decision will be announced shortly.
Alun Michael [holding answer 29 October 2001]: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs does not provide any direct financial assistance to Councils for Voluntary Service or Councils for Voluntary Action. Individual Councils would be eligible to apply for support from the Rural Support Initiative Fund. This Fund, which is part of the joint Government and voluntary sector Rural Stress Action Plan, has supported local initiatives to help people in distress particularly as a result of Foot and Mouth Disease in recent months. We do provide financial support to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (£90,000 for the 200102 financial year) and Rural Community Councils (£2.984 million plus staff costs for a Community Development Worker for the 200102 financial year) via the Countryside Agency. The Rural Community Councils work closely with Councils for Voluntary Service in their area and concentrate on activity in rural communities.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the (a) names of the board members appointed to the Carbon Trust in each case listing the sector or industry which they represent and (b) the date of the board's first meeting, its agenda and minutes. 
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Members of the Carbon Trust Board are drawn from both the public and private sectors and cover a wide range of interest and skills relevant to the Trust's remit.
The first Board meeting was held on 13 July 2001. Publication of Board papers is a matter for the Carbon Trust Board. However, I understand that the Carbon Trust's strategic framework will be published shortly for public consultation.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) under what powers the Ofwat Regulator can (a) compel water companies to install meters at the request of tenants, (b) make water companies notify tenants of any changes to their water charge tariffs and (c) intervene where a tenant feels that the tariff being levied is too high; 
(3) if she will make a statement on the procedure for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants other than through the Regulator. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 1 November 2001]: Under section 142 and 143 of the Water Industry Act 1991, as amended by sections 3 and 4 of the Water Industry Act 1999, water companies have no power to charge for services to a dwelling except in accordance with a charges scheme approved by the Director General of Water Services (Ofwat). Under Condition D of the terms of their appointments as statutory undertakers under the Water Industry Act, companies must make their charges schemes available to anyone on request but there is no requirement to advertise tariffs or changes in tariffs. Companies communicate with their customers about
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tariffs when sending out bills. Ofwat also publishes information each year about changes in average bills and detailed tariffs for each company.
Under sections 144A and 209A of the Water Industry Act 1991 as amended by sections 6 and 11 of the Water Industry Act 1999, the right to a measured water charge, and therefore to a water meter free of initial cost, is available to all household water company customers irrespective of tenure except for tenancies of less than six months. The terms of a tenancy may not prevent a tenant from requesting the installation of a meter or require any consent from the landlord. Companies are required to fit a meter on request except where it would not be reasonably practicable or would incur unreasonable expense. Any dispute may be determined by Ofwat. Water companies have no involvement or statutory duties as to the charges made by landlords to tenants who are not water company customers, nor is there any statutory duty on landlords to charge tenants on a measured basis.
Sometimes the landlord is the customer liable to pay charges to the water company. The charges set by such a landlord to tenants are service charges that are in the first place a matter between landlord and tenant. Ofwat has made the Water Resale Order 2001, under section 150 of the Water Industry Act, limiting the charges that may be made for reselling water or sewerage services provided originally by a water company. Ofwat can advise but has no powers to determine disputes between landlords and tenants.
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